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Why Holiday Sales May Hinge on How ‘The One Percent’ Feels
CNBC.com | November 18, 2011 | 03:28 PM EST

Wealthy Americans may appear to the masses as a unified group, but there is divergence in the attitudes of the rich toward holiday spending this year — which means that the key to how the holiday season unfolds may rest in the hands of the wealthiest.

Affluent households, or those who represent the top 10 percent of American wage-earning households, are expected to account for 23 percent of the total 2011 holiday spending this season, according to Harrison Group, a market research firm.

Here’s the surprise: Although forecasts are calling for average — or in a few cases, above average — gains in holiday spending, gift-giving budgets of affluent families are down, according to Harrison’s research. However, among the wealthiest of the wealthy spending is projected to be higher.

The data collected by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing from 769 affluent Americans with discretionary household incomes ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million dollars. It projects an overall decline of $1.04 billion, or a 6.1 percent drop, in plans to give gifts among affluent and wealthy families compared with 2010.

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